My appachchi, the late schoolmaster Loku Banda Ekanayake, was born on January 28, 1907, in Naranpanawa.
The village of Narampanawa has great scenic beauty, bordered as it is by hills and tea estates and the Hulu Ganga, a tributary of the Mahaweli River. This village, where my father and I were born, was blessed with a number of erudite teachers and headmasters, the most famous of them being the Sinhala poet Wilmalaratne Kumaragama.
My father was a school headmaster, and he wore cloth and coat. He adopted the national dress for a short period but reverted to cloth and coat, declaring that the national dress suited politicians only.
My mother was also a teacher. Our parents gave my two brothers and three sisters and myself the best education possible, in leading schools in and around Kandy.
My father believed that everyone should enjoy the same high level of education. The six of us were married with our parents’ blessings.
Appachchi’s father was a village mudalali. My father told us that the shop was built on premises that once housed a wholesale establishment, and that in the old days provisions would be carried by elephants from Menikhinna. The roads were not motorable in those days. My grandfather supplied the white planters on the surrounding estates.
My father was an abstemious person, and advised us to follow his example. He once told me, “If a person helps you with Rs. 2 (a fairly big sum then), but you cannot help in the same way, at least help with 25 cents”.
He told us never to be stingy, and to respect teachers and elderly persons and the clergy of all religions.
He was on close terms with the high priests of the temple. The villagers addressed him as “Kapurastenne Loku Mahattaya”.
He would accompany me whenever he visited from Poppitiya School (about seven miles walking distance from Madugoda, now Uda Dumbara), towards Kandy.
One day, in the 1940s, I was accompanying him along a forest footpath at about 5.30 am. We saw a fleet of aircraft flying in formation. I was seven years old at the time.
Later, I came to know that that particular day was Easter Sunday, in 1942, the day the Japanese bombed Colombo.
My father died at the age of 70. He did not live to see his grandchildren grown up. He would have been happy to know that his grandchildren are doctors, engineers, surveyors, teachers and nurses, and all are married to professionals with high posts in the country.
May our parents attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.
Tikiri Bandara Ekanayake